Development and assessment of a telesonography system for musculoskeletal imaging Obaid, Mohammed; Zhang, Qianwei; Adams, Scott J.; Fotouhi, Reza; Obaid, Haron
Background Telesonography systems have been developed to overcome barriers to accessing diagnostic ultrasound for patients in rural and remote communities. However, most previous telesonography systems have been designed for performing only abdominal and obstetrical exams. In this paper, we describe the development and assessment of a musculoskeletal (MSK) telesonography system. Methods We developed a 4-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) robot to manipulate an ultrasound probe. The robot was remotely controlled by a radiologist operating a joystick at the master site. The telesonography system was used to scan participants’ forearms, and all participants were conventionally scanned for comparison. Participants and radiologists were surveyed regarding their experience. Images from both scanning methods were independently assessed by an MSK radiologist. Results All ten ultrasound exams were successfully performed using our developed MSK telesonography system, with no significant delay in movement. The duration (mean ± standard deviation) of telerobotic and conventional exams was 4.6 ± 0.9 and 1.4 ± 0.5 min, respectively (p = 0.039). An MSK radiologist rated quality of real-time ultrasound images transmitted over an internet connection as “very good” for all telesonography exams, and participants rated communication with the radiologist as “very good” or “good” for all exams. Visualisation of anatomic structures was similar between telerobotic and conventional methods, with no statistically significant differences. Conclusions The MSK telesonography system developed in this study is feasible for performing soft tissue ultrasound exams. The advancement of this system may allow MSK ultrasound exams to be performed over long distances, increasing access to ultrasound for patients in rural and remote communities.
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